My dear son,
I realize you will be serving Christ in a world far different than the one where I was trained and first released into ministry. Your methods, your dress, your vocabulary, the technologies you use and even the problems you face may have little in common with the world I knew, or even the world in which we both minister today. You will be a faithful servant of Christ not because you mimic my words or imitate my ministry style, but because you live out the timeless values we share – values that come to us from the Word of God and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So while I still have the opportunity, I want to take a few minutes to summarize in writing the values and life lessons I have attempted to live out before you and most want to pass on to you…
The most important thing in all of life is to fall in love Jesus over and over again. This foundation will cause your life to be strong and enduring. Take time every day to know Jesus a bit better. The culmination of daily encounters with Him will have dividends of strength and stability when life gets discouraging, hard and you feel like giving up. As your relationship with Jesus remains vibrant and fluid, your motivation for life and loving others will be selfless, inspiring, authentic and powerful. A commitment to returning to your first love throughout life will allow you to be flexible in how you carry out the principles of Scripture and will save you from becoming stagnant in the comfortable.
Deepening relationships are crucial throughout your lifetime. Moving towards people with the love and grace of Christ is a powerful way to live. You can count on being hurt, misunderstood and taken advantage of as you love people deeply. Do not give in to the temptation to isolate and live life in the emotional cave of self protection. Godly people keep seeking Christ when their hearts are hurting. As we seek Christ in times of pain, He will always urge you keep on loving even as you heal. I know it will be confusing and the darkness of the pain will at times be suffocating. Godly leaders set the example of moving towards God and people in the midst of the hurting. Remember Jesus who moved through His darkness of being betrayed, falsely tried as a criminal, beaten and crucified. He looked for a way out in the garden but choose to follow His Father’s leading. He loved others in the middle of the darkness by inviting His followers to pray with Him in the garden, by healing Malchus’ ear after it was cut off, by looking at Peter when He denied Him, by ministering to thief on the cross and by comforting His mother while dying. Jesus didn’t freeze and isolate in the middle of His darkness and we should follow His example.
Beg God for a deep and deepening passion to spread the seeds of the Gospel to as many people as you can. Be eager to take risks in engaging people with the good news of Christ. View life as an expedition of seeking souls for the King. Look daily for Jesus to arrange opportunities to use you to infect others with who He is and His good news. Living adventurously for Jesus will keep your faith fresh by knowing that Jesus has your back and believes that you are a competent minister of the new covenant. The risks you take will shift in each decade of your life but taking risks is necessary for a vibrant, missional faith.
In all this, be sure to invest in others who will follow Jesus just as you are doing. I want to sum up everything in my life and give it to you in a simple statement; “Listen to Jesus and do what He says.”